You’re awoken from a blissful sleep to the horrors of what awaits you; a list of things you need to do. “After my coffee”, rightly so. “Let me change first”, that’s fine. “I should probably reply to mum about that thing she needed help with a month ago”, well, okay.
Now what happens is, you delay and distract from all the things you should be doing, till it’s 6pm, you’ve gotten nearly nothing done, and sink into a spiral of self- pity and loathing. Most likely beating yourself up for being “lazy” and “procrastinating”, ending the day dissatisfied, unhappy and continuing the torture into the next day.
This godawful cycle is definitely one I’m guilty of. Having suffered from anxiety my entire life meant any stress or emotional trauma often triggered a paralysis, stopping me from doing anything, and I mean anything. It’s worse when you’re a child. You don’t know why you are the way you are. Almost like persistently picking a scab, you just can’t seem to stop.
But what if I told you that by being totally unproductive right now, you’re probably doing yourself a favour? That sitting down with a cuppa, watching Netflix’s latest hit series, Emily in Paris, would do you better justice than forcing yourself through a task you can barely stand the sight of?
Now hear me out. From midnight junk runs and unnecessarily large amounts of takeaways, our body puts up with a lot of our crap. But keeping busy 24/7 isn’t ideal. At some point, you’ll be running on low fuel which will leave you cranky, on edge and just plain miserable.
Just like everything else we depend on in this world, our body needs to recharge its batteries and pause. And I mean really pause. Not, take a break but during that break panic of all the things you should really be doing, pause. No. that’s not a break, that’s a burden.
First rule. Allow yourself to relax, watch T.V, do something you really love (or something really boring!) It doesn’t matter how long. 5minutes-5 hours, a day? As long as it feels good enough for you, and that you’re mentally prepared for the next day.
Second rule: Stop feeling guilty. Listening to your body when it’s telling you it needs a break, does not make you lazy or any less. You’re only human. Even robots need to recharge 😉 Acknowledging that it’s okay to do nothing will leave you feeling more satisfied. Making you happier, more relaxed and in turn more productive. Only then would you truly be benefiting from your break.
You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life, might as well make that a happy place to be!
Third (optional) rule: One I dread the most but Covid gave us plenty of time to do. Practice being alone with your thoughts during your free time. Forget having anxiety, I’m pretty sure the idea of allowing your brain to wander free is distressing to anybody.
In fact, a “Thinking Period” study actually found that people would rather be electrically shocked than be left alone with their thoughts. Can’t say I’m shocked, if you peaked inside of my brain, you’d do it too. But why is spending time in your own head such a miserable thing to do? You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life, might as well make that a happy place to be!
Letting your mind wander, allows you to think of things you’ve been ignoring or feelings you’ve been suppressing. Let your mind and body think and feel everything it’s been holding onto, for the ultimate sense of relief. It won’t be easy and it will take time. But dedicating a moment to practice this when you can, will prove worth it.
We struggle with the idea that it’s not okay to do nothing, living in a time where society thinks if you’re not being productive or constantly chasing your dreams, then you’re a failure. Nooo honey, nu uh. That stigma needs to stop.